Mattie Miracle 2021 Walk was a $125,000 success!

Mattie Miracle Cancer Foundation Promotional Video

Thank you for keeping Mattie's memory alive!

Dear Mattie Blog Readers,

It means a great deal to us that you take the time to write to us and to share your thoughts, feelings, and reflections on Mattie's battle and death. Your messages are very meaningful to us and help support us through very challenging times. To you we are forever grateful. As my readers know, I promised to write the blog for a year after Mattie's death, which would mean that I could technically stop writing on September 9, 2010. However, at the moment, I feel like our journey with grief still needs to be processed and fortunately I have a willing support network still committed to reading. Therefore, the blog continues on. If I should find the need to stop writing, I assure you I will give you advanced notice. In the mean time, thank you for reading, thank you for having the courage to share this journey with us, and most importantly thank you for keeping Mattie's memory alive.

As Mattie would say, Ooga Booga (meaning, I LOVE YOU)! Vicki and Peter

The Mattie Miracle Cancer Foundation celebrates its 7th anniversary!

The Mattie Miracle Cancer Foundation was created in the honor of Mattie.

We are a 501(c)(3) Public Charity. We are dedicated to increasing childhood cancer awareness, education, advocacy, research and psychosocial support services to children, their families and medical personnel. Children and their families will be supported throughout the cancer treatment journey, to ensure access to quality psychosocial and mental health care, and to enable children to cope with cancer so they can lead happy and productive lives. Please visit the website at: and take some time to explore the site.

We have only gotten this far because of people like yourself, who have supported us through thick and thin. So thank you for your continued support and caring, and remember:

.... Let's Make the Miracle Happen and Stomp Out Childhood Cancer!

A Remembrance Video of Mattie

December 21, 2019

Saturday, December 21, 2019

Saturday, December 21, 2019

Tonight's picture was taken in December of 2004. Mattie was two and half years old and by this point, he was fully aware of my need to take photos. He wasn't always happy about it, but he complied. Mattie in a Christmas sweater (he had a new one each year) in front of our tree. This was the cover of our 2004 Christmas card. 

Quote of the day: Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines, sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.Mark Twain

I woke up at 5am today because the rocking of the ship was making me absolutely crazy. I could hear waves crashing and could feel my body or I should say my stomach swaying back and forth. I knew I had to take more Dramamine ASAP. 

This morning my mom and I attended a lecture on St. Kitts, one of the islands we will be visiting. I had no idea that Kitts is actually an English abbreviation for Christopher. In 1492, the country was visited by Christopher Columbus on his second voyage. He named it Saint Christopher in his honor and sailed on to Hispaniola (now called Haiti and the Dominican Republic). Others, say Columbus discovered St. Kitts on his second voyage to the New World in 1493, and thought the island resembled Saint Christopher carrying the Christ child. “Kitts” is the nickname and most commonly used moniker for the island. In the United Kingdom, St. Kitts is often still called “St. Christopher.”

In the piazza of the ship, there is all sorts of things from a cafe, shops, live music or a concert and this wonderful gingerbread display. This display was made by the ship's pastry chefs. It is very special and as you approach it, you can smell the gingerbread. 

A close up of the displays. The attention to detail is wonderful and truly makes the space seem festive. 
How do you like these snowmen on skis? 
We loved checking out this display. Today and tomorrow are full days at sea, as we are covering a lot of territory from Florida to St. Thomas.

Given how I am feeling, I am not up to doing a whole lot, but we did have lunch in the dining room and sat for an hour or so in the Sanctuary. This is an adult only space, that is more peaceful and isolated from the hustle and bustle of the ship.  
This was the kind of stuff we sailed through today. Rain, clouds, and close to 30mph winds.
We tried to relax for a little bit in the Sanctuary. But it didn't happen for me. I was cold and couldn't take the wind whipping all around me. So I am back in the cabin and going to rest before dinner tonight. Everyone is asked to dress in formal attire, and at the moment, I feel like I could show up to dinner in my pajamas. 

I captured Peter trying to rest on a lounge chair. Notice he is bundled up and has noise canceling head phones on because otherwise all he'd hear is the wind. 

December 20, 2019

Friday, December 20, 2019

Friday, December 20, 2019

Tonight's picture was taken in December of 2003. Mattie was a year and a half old and sitting still for a photo wasn't his forte. So I got the idea of dressing him in a Christmas sweater and taking him to Lowe's. Mattie tolerated three stores.... Lowe's, Home Depot, and Target. So we put him in a shopping cart and wheeled him around the Christmas displays at Lowe's. This caught his attention long enough for us to snap photos. This photo was on the cover of our 2003 Christmas card. 

Quote of the day: The journey, not the arrival matters. T.S. Eliot

Embarkation day for a cruise ship is always a bit stressful. However, Fort Lauderdale is super organized and were very customer focused. They couldn't be more helpful with my dad as they understood he needed a wheelchair and that we all needed to stay together. A night and day experience from our Canada cruise in August. 

In port this morning were 6 large cruise ships. Keep in mind that many of these ships carry over 3,000 passengers. So do the math..... 18,000 people coming off and 18,000 people coming onto the ships in ONE day!!! It is remarkable how Fort Lauderdale pulls this off so efficiently. This photo was taken from our hotel room this morning. It was cloudy and very windy. 
The beauty of Port Everglades in Fort Lauderdale. I love that drawbridge in the background. Mattie LOVED drawbridges and I can't see one without thinking of him. 
This Celebrity Cruise Ship departed before us. It is truly amazing to think that such a large vessel floats and carries people from one location to the next. Cruise ships have become the destination for so many people. As it is truly like visiting a city filled with people from all around the world (I am not kidding, because the ship's crew are literally from all around our globe), art, food, and entertainment. 

Why did I take a photo of this Fort Lauderdale condo? The unit with the light on catches my attention at each sail away! Why? Because the man inside the condo rings a COW bell each time a cruise ship departs from port. I absolutely look forward to his cow bell ringing on his balcony and I always wave!
We are on the 15th floor of this cruise ship. Typically we get a cabin in the center of the ship, which is the most 
stable. However, this time we are high up and also in the front of the ship. I feel like we are bouncing around in the water like a cork tonight. 

I took a photo of our cabin because to me it is the size of a postage stamp. 
In comparison to the bathroom, the room is a palace. The size of the shower looks like a very small phone booth. Something to look forward to tomorrow morning. Meanwhile, I am still under the weather and trying to heal naturally, but it may not happen!

December 19, 2019

Thursday, December 19, 2019

Thursday, December 19, 2019

Tonight's picture was taken in December of 2002. That was quite the day! It was our first snow fall for the season. I got inspired and put Mattie in a Santa suit and brought out his entertainment saucer onto our deck. Peter was snapping photos and I was jumping around in the background trying to get Mattie's attention. This photo was on the cover of our 2002 Christmas card. 

Quote of the day: All journeys have secret destinations of which the traveler is unaware.Martin Buber

Last night a sore throat ensued. Today it didn't get any better and by the time I got off the plane, I am sure I am running a fever. 

This is the third cruise I am headed on in which I am feeling very very tired and worn down. Not a good way to start a cruise, because unlike what some may think, cruising is NOT relaxing at all. 

This photo captures the DC National Mall. A place we walk with Sunny often. 

It was a clear day in DC. The sun was shining over the National Mall. It was a stunning flying day. 
The Foggy Bottom neighborhood. Home of the Kennedy Center and the George Washington University. 
In my plane seat pocket, I saw a familiar face staring at me. Check this ad out for the movie, A Dog's Journey! Does this not look like Sunny???!!! Meanwhile, I got two messages today that Sunny is NOT eating. Not even his snacks. I am used to his starvation diet when I go away. It is like he goes on strike to tell me his is displeased. 
Our first flight landed in Charlotte, NC. Notice it was Sunny there too!
Charlotte from the air. 
This was our descent into Fort Lauderdale. It was raining and foggy and it is scheduled to be like this for the next three days. 

Once I landed, I absolutely panicked. I panicked because I do not want to go on a cruise without antibiotics in case I get another full blown sinus infection. Which is what I had the last two cruises. So I literally called me doctor's office and demanded antibiotics. I did not get my doctor, I got her partner. Who I am not wild about. She is rather rough around the edges and has a sharp personality. Not a good demeanor for me when I am not feeling well. Any case, I totally snapped at her condescending attitude and needless to say I got antibiotics. But does it need to be this difficult? She should be able to see my history and I am not medication seeking. I only seek it when there is an issue. An issue that I get practically every December and January. 

Many cruise ships, like this Carnival one, were in the Fort Lauderdale harbor today. I am headed to rest and hope that tomorrow will be a better day. But embarkation day from my perspective is always stressful as Peter and I manage many logistics. 

December 18, 2019

Wednesday, December 18, 2019

Wednesday, December 18, 2019

Tonight's picture was taken on December 5, 2002. This was our first snow fall of the season. I dressed Mattie up so that we could capture a photo for our family Christmas card. In between photos, Peter made a snow ball and showed it to Mattie. Don't you just love Mattie's inspection of this white ball?!!!

Quote of the day: Love is the micro-moment of warmth and connection that you share with another living being. ~ Barbara Fredrickson

Recently I received a couple of emails out of the blue from a few people I have met over the years. Either I worked with them in some way or had the opportunity to interact with them through the Foundation. These individuals who reached out to me don't know each other, therefore, the fact that I received emails from them this week is sheer coincidence. Perhaps it is the holiday season that causes all of us to be more introspective, and thereby triggers people to write emails. I don't know. But one things I do know and that is we all like knowing that either something we did or said, made a difference in another person's life. So given the two plus weeks Peter and I have had with his mom's accident, receiving positive messages is a wonderful way to start off our trip tomorrow. 

Peter and I did not stop moving from the moment we got up this morning. It was one chore after the other, after the other. Within our day, we had to board both Sunny and Indie. Neither of which like being separated from us. I always admire people who have family around to care for their pets or children. Peter and I never had this and therefore always had to find outside sources for help. I rarely had a babysitter for Mattie, and somehow this philosophy translates over to Sunny and Indie. Today I was thinking.... why do I never see a dog on a cruise ship? If people can bring animals on planes, why not on a cruise?! No answer, but I chuckle thinking about Sunny and Indie on the high seas! Any case, I will be writing to you tomorrow from Florida. 

December 17, 2019

Tuesday, December 17, 2019

Tuesday, December 17, 2019 -- Mattie died 533 weeks ago today. 

Tonight's picture was taken in December of 2003. We took Mattie out to Los Angeles to celebrate Christmas with my parents. In their backyard were all sorts of citrus trees. Mattie loved to pick fruit and then sort them by type. It was nature's building blocks and Mattie was intrigued. 

Quote of the day: Wisdom is the reward you get for a lifetime of listening when you would have rather talked. ~ Mark Twain

Peter is back in Washington, DC, however, he was on the phone several times today with his parents and with his mom's doctors. It turns out in addition to everything else going on, Peter's mom is dealing with Deep Vein Thrombosis. Which is what is depicted in this photo. Deep vein thrombosis (DVT) occurs when a blood clot (thrombus) forms in one or more of the deep veins in your body, usually in the legs. Deep vein thrombosis can be very serious because blood clots in  veins can break loose, travel through the bloodstream and lodge in the lungs, blocking blood flow. So needless to say, his mom will return back to the hospital for a procedure to insert a filter. The filter is inserted into a large vein (vena cava) in the abdomen. A vena cava filter prevents clots that break loose from lodging in the lungs. After placement, she will return back to acute rehab. 

After Peter heard all of this today, he told the doctor that he did not want his mother discharged on December 23 (like planned). Given it is a holiday week, Peter worries that his mom will be returning home too soon and if anything happens, she won't be in the hospital and won't have access to timely in-home care given it is Christmas week. The doctor agreed with Peter. Peter has been working around the clock to make sure his mom gets the best care possible, with the ultimate goal of returning home. 

On Thursday, we are headed to Florida on a cruise with my parents. Thankfully with the help of technology, Peter will have access to his cell phone throughout the trip. Nonetheless, his goal is to get this filter inserted this week, so his mom can truly begin focusing on rehab.  

December 16, 2019

Monday, December 16, 2019

Monday, December 16, 2019

Tonight's picture was taken on December 20, 2003. Mattie was a year and half old and headed to Los Angeles to celebrate Christmas. It was five hours of non-stop entertainment for us as Mattie was very excited to be traveling and napping never happened. Fortunately I always traveled with a bag of tricks. I remember the flight attendant was very nice and she went up to first class to get Mattie strawberries. Thinking he'd eat them. Mattie wasn't a fruit fellow, but I can say I enjoyed the strawberries. 

Quote of the day: Wisdom is the reward you get for a lifetime of listening when you would have rather talked. ~ Mark Twain

I would say about two years ago, I was contacted by the Cancer Action Coalition of Virginia (CACV). CACV focuses on the prevention, early detection, treatment, advocacy, research, and evaluation of cancer in the Commonwealth
of Virginia. They are responsible for developing the State's Cancer plan. The Plan is a framework that presents priority objectives, goals and strategies to reduce cancer risk, eliminate preventable cancers and minimize cancer deaths and disabilities. It provides guidance for designing, implementing, monitoring, and evaluating cancer-related actions and addressing a myriad of issues. The plan provides direction to better understand and reduce cancer disparities through research, education and clinical practice. Members of the public, people with cancer and their families, healthcare providers, policymakers, and healthcare experts all will benefit from the guidance the plan offers.

The reason I was contacted was for two reasons. The old Virginia State Cancer Plan was missing two things. First there was no mention to childhood cancer, as the Plan was all about adult cancer and though one would think cancer is cancer, it is different in children and therefore has to be supported differently. The second issue was there was no mention of psychosocial care. Guess what? 

Two years later both are being addressed! Not just addressed, but there is a whole chapter (starting on page 45) dedicated to childhood cancer and YES the Psychosocial Standards are mentioned. Check out p.48....... the goal by 2022, is that all pediatric cancer treatment centers in Virginia commit to meeting the Psychosocial Standards of Care!

I have been working closely with Amy Godkin, the executive director of the ASK Foundation. We talk periodically and I shared the Standards with Amy and have been explaining their purpose and how they can be used. She has been a real advocate for the Standards in Virginia and what this shows me is that when advocates work together, and are passionate and committed, we can change the system! 

Virginia State Cancer Plan (Standards mentioned on p.48)

December 15, 2019

Sunday, December 15, 2019

Sunday, December 15, 2019

Tonight's picture was taken in December of 2006. Mattie was four a half years old and by this point totally got Christmas. I can't say he liked decorating but he loved to see the tree, the lights, and the ornaments. His favorite part of the process was assembling his Christmas train around the tree. A Mattie tradition. 

Quote of the day: Listening is being able to be changed by the other person. ~ Alan Alda

Today I went out with a group of women I met when Mattie was in preschool. Rather ironic that these women are still a part of my life. We are close friends and they are loyal supporters of the Foundation. We went out to celebrate a friend's birthday, but in the process I came home with a gift. At first I looked at it and it appeared to be a seashell. I love seashells, but then saw there was a message associated with the shell. As we all know that if you put a seashell up to your ear, you will hear the sea. 

The necklace was to remind me that one of the gifts I have is my ability to listen to others. But as Alan Alda's quote points out listening enables both the listener and the one being listened to, to experience change. The change doesn't go just one way. As I believe every social interaction evokes an outcome, it causes us to pause, to absorb what is being said, and to process it and gain insight. The insight again goes both ways, as I have found I learn a lot from listening to people's thoughts and feelings, but I also know being the recipient of a kind ear helps me at times move forward. 

In any case, today's conversation was fascinating because we had a long discussion about what is a friend and at what point do you just stop the friendship because a connection is no longer positive or mutual. It never dawned on me that some of us (sitting around that table) have different view points about friendship. I am very clear in my mind as to what qualifies a friend. I am not attracted to friends because of their monetary or social status. That doesn't interest me in the least and unfortunately if this is what attracts you to a friend, then I do believe there will be trouble ahead. Because friendship has to be based on substance, core values and principles, and mutual respect. It requires both parties to work on cultivating the friendship as well. If you find that you are working too hard and that a so called friend is not there during your most difficult times, than that should be the first red flag. Either case, you can see it wasn't a light birthday brunch!